Story of Justice: Amanda Can’t Reach the DEO
Amanda* was an independent contractor dog groomer. She lost her work in March when Covid resulted in the closings of the dog grooming business she was working for. She tried to apply for unemployment benefits under the CARES ACT but she did not have a computer and could not get through on the state unemployment call center.
When Amanda contacted Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida (CCLA) it was the end of August and she was desperate. A CCLA attorney helped Amanda file her claim online. Because she was an independent contractor and not eligible for regular unemployment, she could not receive benefits until the Department of Employment Opportunity (DEO) posted an additional pandemic application in her online account. No application was posted.
Amanda continued to call DEO for assistance while the CCLA attorney submitted proof of Amanda’s prior work payments and requests for the application to the online account. The attorney reached out to DEO requesting assistance.
A month had passed and Amanda could no longer pay her utility bills and her electricity was cut off in the heat of summer. Amanda had to place her elderly mother with a friend.
Why it Matters
Finally, the attorney was able to find someone at DEO to help Amanda and get her application posted. Within days, Amanda had received $3,000 to her bank account. Incredibly enough, Amanda learned that her bank account was frozen due to inactivity. CCLA was able to assist her in getting the payments made to a debit card. Overall, Amanda received more than $15,000 in payments and continues to receive assistance under the new continuation legislation, which allowed her to remain in her residence with her elderly mother.
*Names and images have been changed to protect the privacy of our clients